Our mission began in 1908. In 2008, it continues.
When the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine formally opened Mercy Hospital on September 24, 1908 – the feast day of Our Lady of Mercy – it had been exactly 57 years since the first Sisters left Boulogne sur Mer, France, to care for the orphans and sick of northeast Ohio.
Located in what was once the downtown Canton home of the late President William McKinley, Mercy Hospital became Stark County’s first and only faith-based hospital.
A century later, Mercy Medical Center remains committed to its original purpose: to continue Christ’s healing ministry by providing quality, compassionate, accessible and affordable care for the whole person.
Our mission continues.
Our Mission Begins: 1908 – 1910
Mrs. Rose Klorer, who wanted to establish a faith-based hospital in the growing city of Canton, purchased President McKinley’s former home on North Market Street on April 15, 1908. She presented the house to the Diocese of Cleveland with the stipulation that the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine be in charge.
In cooperation with area physicians, the Sisters opened Mercy Hospital on September 24, admitting its first two patients. In October, a training school for nurses was instituted.
Building A Foundation: 1911 – 1949
However, it was not long before Mercy Hospital outgrew its original building, and on July 25, 1910, ground was broken for construction at 8th Street and North Market. By March 17, 1911, the new Mercy Hospital was ready for occupancy with 53 beds.
Over the next 38 years, with the help of many generous donations, the hospital continued to expand its facilities and services to include X-ray; physical therapy; radium, cardiology and pathology laboratories; obstetrics and physiotherapy. In addition, Mercy opened a pediatric unit called Little Flower Hospital in 1928 (later closed in 1952) and Ohio’s first – and the nation’s second – psychiatric unit in 1929.
In 1941, the hospital founded a tumor clinic and, by 1949, housed its own radiography training program, now one of the oldest continuously operating schools in the U.S.
Our Journey: 1950 – 1970
On April 24, 1950, the Timken Foundation of Canton presented the H. H. Timken mansion and its 30.8-acre tract of land at Harrison Avenue and 12th Street N.W. – valued at $800,000 – to Mercy Hospital. The reconditioned home, which could accommodate 72 patients, was dedicated on January 23, 1952, while plans for a new facility – to be called Timken Mercy Hospital – were devised.
Groundbreaking for Timken Mercy Hospital began on October 22, 1953, and the original building was dedicated on January 13, 1957. Then, in 1967, the hospital broke ground for a ten-story tower, which was finished in October of 1970. With this expansion came the decision to close Mercy Hospital on North Market and sell the property to the Timken Foundation.
During this time of growth, Mercy continued to institute innovative health care services that would meet community needs, including a speech and hearing clinic, a cobalt therapy unit and a cardiac catheterization laboratory. In 1956, the hospital received full accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals and the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing by the National League for Nursing.
Mercy also established its affiliation with Walsh College (now Walsh University) in North Canton. In 1968, Mercy nursing students began attending the college for two semesters during the first year of their training program. Eventually, the hospital would partner with Walsh in its associate and baccalaureate nursing degree programs and close its school of nursing in 1984.
Continued Growth: 1971 – 1980
Throughout the 1970s, Mercy remained on the cutting edge of medical technology, performing Canton’s first coronary bypass surgery. The hospital also implemented diagnostic ultrasound, an automated hematology system, a cardiac function laboratory, computerized cardiac stress testing, a pacemaker clinic, a whole-body CAT scanner and the first peripheral vascular laboratory in Stark County.
Physician development was emphasized, too. Mercy established its affiliation with NEOUCOM (Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine) in 1975 and a medical teaching service for internal medicine residents in 1979.
In addition, Mercy created many new programs and services for patients, families, employees and the community. Prenatal classes, pastoral care, a rehabilitation team, occupational therapy for psychiatric and disabled patients, interfaith prayer services, health education services and an employee assistance program (now called CONCERN) met not only physical needs, but emotional and spiritual ones, as well.
On July 11, 1979, because space was again needed for new technology and programs, Mercy broke ground on a $32,000,000 renovation/expansion project, including a new five-story medical office building, a parking garage and updates to 15 hospital departments and areas.
In 1980, the hospital – now called Timken Mercy Medical Center – appointed its first lay person, Dan Belden, to serve as president of the Mercy Board of Trustees.
Reaching Out: 1981 – 1994
In the early 1980s, Mercy recognized it could better serve area communities through off-site health centers. In 1981, the Timken Mercy Health Center of Carroll County opened in Carrollton. In 1984, Mercy started an immediate care facility for minor injuries and illnesses in North Canton, which would later become the Mercy Health Center of North Canton. The Mercy Health Center of Jackson/Massillon was opened in 1994.
Many other Mercy initiatives were designed to take the medical center’s mission beyond its walls. To encourage wellness and positive lifestyle changes, Mercy held its first annual health run in 1982. And, in 1994, Mercy began outreach programs to Skyline Terrace (a subsidized housing community in southeast Canton), which continue today.
At the same time, Mercy was strengthening its reputation for clinical excellence in many areas. In 1983, Mercy became the admitting unit in Stark County for all psychiatric patients, and in 1984, the hospital’s emergency department was designated a trauma center. Mercy also became the first hospital in Stark County to receive a full, three-year approval for its cancer program by the American College of Surgeons in 1986.
The medical center also made significant strides in heart care as, in 1988, it became the first in northeast Ohio to acquire the latest heart attack drug, TPA (tissue plasminogen activator). The Mercy Regional Heart Center, originally affiliated with The Ohio State University (OSU) Hospitals and the OSU College of Medicine, was dedicated in 1990.
Many new departments and services were also added, including an accredited cardiac rehabilitation unit (the first in Stark County), hyperbaric oxygen (the only unit of its kind within 40 miles), sports medicine, a physical rehabilitation unit, coronary care and cardiac step-down units, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the women’s pavilion and a senior behavioral unit.
A Nationally Renowned Medical Center: 1995 – Today
Mercy emerged as a local and national leader in advanced health care during the 1990s, a distinction it still holds today.
The hospital’s commitment to quality led its heart center team to achieve an impressive list of “firsts” in heart care, including the world’s first angioplasty in an emergency department in 1998 and the nation’s first accredited chest pain center in 2003. Other national firsts include cardiac catheterization in a community hospital, use of cardiopulmonary bypass to resuscitate victims of heart attack in an emergency department and transseptal valvuloplasty on a mitral valve with a surgically implanted Carpentier ring.
In Ohio, Mercy became the first hospital to practice drug-eluting stent angioplasty, perform a minimally invasive coronary bypass and, in 2006, install a state-of-the-art, fully functioning cardiac catheterization lab in an emergency department. Additionally, the medical center was the first in Stark County to utilize intracoronary ultrasound and complete a transseptal mitral valvuloplasty, percutaneous aortic balloon valvuloplasty, an unprotected left main coronary stent and radial stent coronary angioplasty. Mercy also executed gamma brachytherapy in 2001 – a first in the Akron-Canton area.
As a result of its innovative cardiac care, Mercy was named one of America’s 50 top heart centers by U.S. News & World Report and one of Solucient’s 100 top hospitals for cardiovascular services in 2002 and 2003.
This vision for clinical excellence remains one of the hospital’s core values and is reflected by Mercy’s desire to offer the best in cutting-edge medicine. In 1995, Mercy opened a sleep study lab and an arrhythmia center. In 2003, the Mercy Emergency Department was designated a Level II Trauma Center, and in 2005, Mercy became the first Stark County hospital to implement intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). In addition, Mercy Homecare was the first in Stark County to use telemonitoring in 2006.
Never losing site of the Sisters’ original purpose, Mercy continues to reach out to the communities it serves and beyond. In 2001, the hospital received a Nova Award from the American Hospital Association for its ongoing programs at Skyline Terrace and Canton City Schools, and it organized Mercy International Mission Outreach to provide education, service and medical resources to underserved developing countries. In 2004, the medical center added The Mercy Health Center of Lake to its off-site facilities.
Mercy also is the first hospital within a five-county service area to institute a comprehensive, hospital-based dental clinic and dental residency program. Opened in 2007, the dental clinic offers preventive, diagnostic, restorative and emergency dental care for poor and underserved.
Our Mission Continues: 2008
For 100 years, Mercy’s mission has remained unchanged: to continue Christ’s healing ministry by providing quality, compassionate, affordable and accessible care for the whole person. As a steward of the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Mercy will continue its passion for health care leadership, quality and faith-based service, now and every day of its next 100 years.